Hurricanes and Climate Change in South Florida: Brainstorming Solutions

Guest Blog | June 13, 2018 | Extreme Weather, Florida

This blog was written by Kelsey Grentzer, former Florida Communications Coordinator at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

At a community gathering at Miami’s CIC, Radical Partners announced “100 Great Ideas” focused on crowdsourcing climate resilience and sustainability solutions.

On Tuesday, a diverse group of South Florida residents gathered at the Miami Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) for a presentation from Senior NASA Scientist, Dr. Timothy Hall, on the impact of climate change on hurricanes. The forum presented an opportunity for a community discussion about tangible solutions to increase resiliency. South Florida residents, policymakers and community leaders have growing concerns about climate change and sea level rise, which is already causing problems in region.

At the event, social impact accelerator Radical Partners announced its latest 100 Great Ideas campaign — focusing on climate resilience and sustainability — for the first time, offering a way for community members to brainstorm solutions beyond the event.

The organization’s 100 Great Ideas campaigns are five-day community brainstorms that take place via Facebook and allow the public to crowdsource solutions to pressing community issues. Radical Partners then uses all of the ideas to build a report, which is shared widely with the community, including elected officials and community leaders.

NASA senior scientist Dr. Timothy Hall presented the latest science on the impact of climate change on hurricanes at the event, including increasing hurricane intensity, the upper limits of hurricane strength, and how climate change affects storm surge, coastal flooding and precipitation patterns. Hall noted that the “speed limit” of hurricanes is increasing as the atmosphere warms.

“There will be more Category 3, Category 4, Category 5 storms — the major hurricanes,” he said. “In fact, there will be storms that achieve intensity levels never seen before historically.”

It’s not about the frequency of hurricanes, Hall said, but rather the “likelihood of achieving very high categories among the storms that do form.”

But what can we do about climate change? We have three choices, Hall says: “We have mitigation, which is to try to bend down the warming curve by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels; we have adaptation, which is re-incentivizing coastal development — sea walls and the like. The third choice is sort of the de facto choice: We have suffering.”

However, despite his sobering observations, Hall remains optimistic about our ability to reduce our vulnerability, and event attendees had plenty of solutions to offer.

A collaboration between the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Miami Climate Alliance, Radical Partners, The New Tropic, and ReThink Energy Florida, the event also featured a participant-driven discussion of policy and solutions.

A lively audience asked questions to a panel of experts, including:

  • Dr. Timothy Hall, Senior Scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor for the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University
  • Dr. Frances Colón, CEO of Jasperi Consulting, member of the City of Miami Sea Level Rise Committee and former Deputy Science and Technology Adviser for the U.S. Department of State
  • Dr. Michael D. McDonald, Coordinator of Global Health Response and Resilience Alliance, Chairman of Global Resilience Systems, and President of Health Initiatives Foundation
  • Susan Glickman, Florida Director of the Southern Alliance of Clean Energy
  • Maggie Fernandez, President of sMIA Group/Sustainable Miami and chair of the Miami Climate Alliance Steering Committee

Do YOU have some ideas for climate mitigation and resilience in South Florida? Make your voice heard during the upcoming 100 Great Ideas campaign, which will take place in Fall 2018. Join the 100 Great Ideas Facebook group and stay tuned in to Radical Partners communication channels (Facebook, Twitter  and sign up for the newsletter) to get updates about the campaign. Radical Partners’ last 100 Great Ideas campaign focused on the issue of housing affordability in South Florida and resulted in more than 250 unique ideas from 2,500 community participants.

If you missed this event, be sure to check out the video of Dr. Hall’s presentation and the panel discussion here.

You can also hear Dr. Hall’s interview on WLRN’s Sundial broadcast.

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